Category Archives: Arts

Drag Shows in Champaign-Urbana: Interview with Amy Myers

“Drag is an art. It is a culture.” As a cis, straight woman, I did not fully understand the cultural importance of drag shows until 2019, when I was managing a community center that has a wonderful zine collection and … Continue reading

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Links

The Public i is partnering with the Education Justice Project (EJP) to share writing completed by incarcerated students at the Danville Correctional Center. The EJP is a comprehensive college-in-prison program based at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Through its educational … Continue reading

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Reckless Law, Shameless Order: Behind the Scenes

  One afternoon in April of 2021 Faranak Miraftab called me to ask if I was interested in holding an art workshop with formerly incarcerated artists in continuation of the “IDENSCITY,” a conceptual art space that I had been developing … Continue reading

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Feminism, the Environment and Stolen Land: Socially Conscious Music from Africa and the South Pacific

Readers may remember my two previous world music reviews, in the February 2021 and Summer 2021 issues of the Public i. All of the music described here was reviewed in the great magazine Songlines. The music is available on Apple … Continue reading

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Two Stories from Statesville Prison

Saving Your Mind: Mental Health in the Age of Corona “This is some next-level shit. I thought I’d seen it all in my 20 years in prison,” said Murder (no real names used), my Quarantine Sanitation Specialist co-worker, as we … Continue reading

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Passing: Can One Ever “Pass”?

I recently watched one of the most beautiful and perhaps also one of the most significant movies I have seen in a long time. Passing, based on a 1929 novel by the Harlem Renaissance author Nella Larson (1891–1964), is a … Continue reading

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What’s Understood Need Not Be Explained

I’m curious to know, as a reading eye and listening ear, what are you expecting to hear from me? That the feds were somehow wrong, and Shamar was right? Or that he was justified in putting out some call to … Continue reading

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Filmmaker Raoul Peck: “Do We Wish for a Common History?”

Pristine wilderness. Sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? A place untouched. But does the phrase “pristine wilderness,” connoting unsullied land, serve as a cultural myth that ironically reeks of genocide? Raoul Peck makes this case and many others in … Continue reading

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A Conversation with Urbana Poet Laureate Ashanti Files

The Public i recently talked to Urbana Poet Laureate Ashanti Files Please tell our readers a little about yourself. “I am a wife, mother, and registered nurse. I currently work in mental health and addiction services. I enjoy reading, writing … Continue reading

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Ubuntu, Hope, and Respect: Socially Conscious Music from the African Continent, the Indian Ocean, and North America

Music is often a reflection of struggles for social change, and a source for joy and hope for the future. This can be heard in the songs noted in my first music review article in the February 2021 issue of … Continue reading

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Slightly Out of Focus: A Review of One Night in Miami and Judas and the Black Messiah

For more than 70 years and over a century, respectively, television and cinema have presented demeaning images of Black people. And for equally as long, African Americans have responded with boycotts, pickets and alternative visions that “depict[ed] our men and … Continue reading

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The Quiet Strength of Bamboo: Three Wonderful Films from the Pacific to Stream

Add these three visually stunning and thoughtful films to your watch list. Each, to varying degrees, tells a story of indigenous culture from an insider’s point of view, and each offers the special pleasure of real people playing themselves in … Continue reading

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Black Art Politicized: A Discussion with Leslie Smith

I had the amazing opportunity to interview Leslie Smith, a board member of the Urbana–Champaign Independent Media Center (UCIMC) and the founder of Black Voices Theater Production. As someone who grew up in a household with a father who is … Continue reading

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Remembering John Prine

As we trudge through the second year of the pandemic, the calendar brings gloomy anniversaries. April 7, 2021 was an especially mournful day, marking one year since John Prine died from COVID-19 complications in a Nashville hospital at the age … Continue reading

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“Congo to the Mississippi”: Recent Socially Conscious Music from Africa and the Americas

It is wonderful that so much music from around the world is now easily available to us, especially through the Internet and radio. My main source is Songlines magazine, a monthly published in print and online in London. Every print … Continue reading

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“The Big Scary ‘S’ Word” is Coming for your Children

  Did you know that Abraham Lincoln and Karl Marx had a correspondence; that Helen Keller was a socialist, as was Francis Bellamy, who authored the Pledge of Allegiance; that North Dakota practices public banking; and that in the 1840s … Continue reading

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What I Learned While being the Poet Laureate for the City of Urbana . . .

I learned that the people of Urbana truly appreciated the emphasis on poetry in their public lives.  They felt it improved their town in a tangible way. I learned that many poets live in this community who don’t always interact … Continue reading

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Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center Offers Digital Venue Space and Community with its Sounds Like Community Web Series

The UC-IMC has always been a popular venue space for performances of all kinds, from spoken word poetry to live music, to art shows, plays and much more. But when the pandemic struck, the IMC Board of Directors was forced … Continue reading

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What to Watch for Dinner Tonight: Trump Through the Looking Glass

Who does Trump see when he looks in the mirror? Like many of us over the proverbial hill, he likely does not acknowledge his elderly self; he sees his younger self, glamorized through the pronounced image he cultivated over decades … Continue reading

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Artist Spotlight on Charlotte Prieu

Tell me a little about yourself and your past creative work. I am a French native and a PhD student in French Linguistics at the University of Illinois. I am very passionate about social justice, especially regarding anti-racism and intersectional … Continue reading

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